Business to security analysts: Shut UPMarch 19, 2008: 10:20 AM ET
I've been in business for about 5,427 dog years and at no time during my career has there ever been a day when somebody wasn't worried about what some security analyst was writing about us. This factoid stretches over six iterations of four separate companies, with enough corporate permutations to confuse a particle physicist.
"Bob Weasel of Finster-Koolaid says we're off on our guidance and won't make our EBITDA for the quarter!" the CFO will write while forwarding the latest analysis from Weasel, who long ago decided to take a negative turn on our stock because it differentiates him from the other analysts and gets him quotes in the Wall Street Journal.
"What are we going to do about it?" people will cry. And of course there's nothing you can do about it. Weasel has every right to his take. Its can't be corrected, either, even if he's wrong, because Weasel's opinion is based on a deep understanding of the marketplace, our business sector, and the economy.
Weasel and his kind are, as I am sure you know, generally found to be employees of banking institutions. Real banks. Investment banks. Naturally, you know, the research side is (relatively recently) well-separated from the side that actually invests in stuff, but still. Who's going to argue with Finster-Koolaid? It's a division of Omnivorous Potentate, the largest investment bank in this brane of the cosmos!
A few years ago, the former CEO of a former form of a former corporate entity that morphed into one of my prior corporate entities appeared at a conference of these geniuses. Granted, Bob was a loser. He had bad affect. Still, the company had a lot going for it. But the security analysts didn't like Bob's style. So within 30 minutes of the close of his presentation, our stock went down like Eliot Spitzer.
People went off to Froggies Tavern early that day, I can tell you. Because those guys ruled. And we drooled, for a long time afterwards. Then a new guy came in that people liked, for whatever reason. And our stock went up. Same company. Actually, slightly worse off, if I remember correctly. Go figure.
So now we look around us and the very same guys who were telling us why we sucked hose water, boy, are they drinking from the other side of the tap. All the great intellects who said people should divest this or that, or that such-and-such would never grow, or that management needed a kick in the kiester... they represent firms that are hawking up huge chunks of lung every day!
Where were these Einsteins when their companies were lending more money than they had to sub-prime borrowers? Were they any less shocked than the rest of us when the piper came to call?
In retrospect, who the hell were they to tell anybody what to invest in, or any corporation what they should or should not do? And why is anybody still listening to any of them?